A Chief Information Officer (CIO) plays an important role in the modern business world. They head up your IT strategy and the systems required for operations. Without a CIO, companies may lack a cohesive approach to technology and not be able to leverage innovations to meet their goals.
Hiring a full-time CIO is not always feasible for an organization, especially if you’re a small or startup business. You have to stretch your hiring budget in many areas, so bringing in a specialized leadership position could take away from other vital teams. A virtual CIO (vCIO) gives you another option in this situation.
What Does a vCIO Do?
The vCIO performs many of the same duties that a traditional CIO would. They take a top-down approach of managing technology in your organization. One of their most important tasks is to create the IT strategy and systems so you have a solid foundation.
They ensure that the plans they create fit in the IT budget and that projects stay on track. The vCIO keeps a close eye on the latest solutions in your industry to see whether your strategy needs to adapt to changing conditions.
The vCIO also oversees your company’s IT security. When so many companies deal with data breaches and other damaging cyber attacks, having someone in charge of the security is essential.
Companies That Benefit From a vCIO
Smaller companies that don’t have the budget to hire a full-time CIO are in a good position to benefit from a vCIO. They may not plan on hiring a CIO in the near future due to budget constraints, but that doesn’t stop the organization from needing someone overseeing the IT strategy.
If your organization is in-between CIOs, bringing in a vCIO in the meantime can minimize disruptions to your operations. You also avoid rushing to pick a new CIO simply to fill that position.
Some companies have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who also covers CIO duties. These roles have significant overlap in many cases, so consider whether a vCIO may be redundant in that situation. You may need to
The Advantages of Having a vCIO
A smaller business that hasn’t had a CIO before gets a more cohesive IT strategy that’s overseen by someone dedicated to that role. In some small or startup companies, the head of the IT department may be juggling CIO duties with other management requirements. They end up stretched too thin, which results in poor performance across the board.
The vCIO model is more cost-effective, with an hourly or flat monthly rate. You don’t have to worry about benefits, recruiting the CIO or other overhead costs that eat into your hiring budget. You can use the money saved to invest in the technology that the vCIO recommends.
An outside perspective is another valuable vCIO contribution. Since they come from outside your organization and work with other clients, they have a broad view on IT matters. When they have a lot of experience in your industry, you can leverage that knowledge for tried and true solutions that will work without a lot of trial and error.
A vCIO is useful even if you have a full-time CIO in your organization. They can come on-board during resource-intensive times, like the beginning of a migration or following a disaster. If your organization has a large digital transformation planned, that’s another opportune time to leverage these highly skilled professionals.
Your IT department no longer needs to worry about developing an overall strategy while they’re trying to support the infrastructure. They get to focus on their core competencies while the vCIO acts in a leadership capacity.
Getting the Most Out of a vCIO
The CIO role is a critical position in your company, so it’s important to set them up for success when you bring in a vCIO. Take the time to work with a service provider willing to learn about where your organization has come from and its future growth plans.
Go over the challenges and opportunities in your current infrastructure and find out how the vCIO plans to improve operations. You want to set clear expectations on the results that you’re looking for and the type of growth that your organization desires.
Understand that there is an acclimation process when you bring any vCIO onboard. They have to learn the ins and outs of your current infrastructure, determine whether you have significant gaps, and identify the industry solutions that would best suit your business goals.
The vCIO can’t rush this process, so it may look like they aren’t productive for the first few weeks that they’re with the organization. In reality, they’re covering their bases so they can assist your organization in the best way possible.
A vCIO is a valuable addition to small and startup businesses, as well as those that need more guidance with their IT strategy. Whether you want to use a vCIO on a permanent basis or simply until you hire a full-time CIO, they’re an excellent way to get the technology leadership you need.